What fat does your brain consume?

The brain is the fattest organ in the body along with the fat that we have under the skin. However, brain fat is not used primarily as a source of energy but as part of its structure. That's why your brain is not thin and your skull is a big size when you lose kilos.

The deficit of the essential fats of the brain is enough to reduce their vital functions in the medium term. Some of the fatty components that the brain and nerves need must be incorporated into the diet. Are you sufficiently informed about essential fats to have a fit head?

Humanizing requires eating better and incorporating more fat

The human brain is about 10-20 times larger in proportion to those of large mammals such as the whale or the elephant. Therefore, our brain spends approximately 600 kcal per day (30% of the total daily kilocalories of an average adult). In particular, We have the largest and most developed gray matter in the entire animal kingdom that had spectacular growth in record time.

In parallel with this brain development, the human being developed abstract thinking, imagination, reflection, introspection and the "imaginary world". How is this spectacular evolution explained that turned our intellect into what we are?

In particular, It points to two aspects: the cooking of food and a richer and more varied nutrition.

Cooking food allows to reduce the time of digestion and the energy that involves chewing without rest to digest the high amount of fiber, collagen and cartilage. By reducing chewing time memory could also be improved, cognitive ability. The size of the intestine was also shortened and a richer and more varied flora of intestinal bacteria was incorporated.

Using the right stove can help you save energy, avoiding wasting unnecessary heat.

On the other hand, the incorporation in the diet of animal protein (soil and water) allowed to accelerate the development and increase of brain volume. The German neuroscientist Karl Zilles states that the human brain in Europeans increased by approximately 70 grams in the last century thanks to better nutrition. The pleasure of good food also brings other endless advantages such as social activity and the pleasure of the senses. Without a doubt, well-fed guts praise the intellect.

There's still more. Some sociologists and anthropologists claim that consuming coastal products (fish, shellfish, molluscs, seaweed and even turtles and crocodiles) increased our intelligence and social skills, creating more complex societies. In fact, the first great civilizations of our history settled on the edge of rivers or seas.

One of the reasons that point to the development of the intellect lies in the incorporation of one of the most sought after fats in the brain: the unsaturated fats abundant in fish oils.

Without fat the brain would be mute

The brain functions as a large center of operations. It manages a huge database, processes it and in many cases generates responses and reactions within a wide range of possibilities.

Brain fat is one of the essential parameters for neurons to communicate with each other. And how! It is estimated that the connection between the neurons constitutes an impressive communication network of about 1000 kilometers. Neural communication is generated by electrochemical impulses.

For "electrical conversation" to be done at maximum speed, the fat that covers the neurons and what we know colloquially as "nerves" is essential. On the other hand, the fat coating prevents the brain from burning. The grease absorbs more heat and is insulating against electricity. However, any fat does not work.

The brain loves cholesterol and omega-3s

The fats of the brain are exquisitely chosen in their cells. Of them, approximately 25% is cholesterol, necessary for many brain functions including memory and learning. The brain cells themselves make cholesterol, so there is usually no shortage of that fatty acid.

Read also: How should you eat to control high cholesterol?

However, the same is not true in the case of other favorite fats in the brain without which it would not work properly: polyunsaturated fatty acids. They are known as "omega", and undoubtedly the most named are the omega-3. The brain is an avid omega-3 buffer that needs to be replenished.

Except for some traditionally vegan feeding populations, in general, humans barely produce all the omega-3s we need. Therefore, when these fatty acids are scarce in the diet, neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive disorders and depressive states can be generated in the medium term.

Where do we find the most omega-3?

More than 50% of essential omega-3 fats come from fish oils (especially blue fish), and to a lesser extent shellfish and seaweed. If we dispensed with these nutritional sources and replaced them only with nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and legumes, we would cover only a small proportion of the total omega-3 we need for the brain.

It may interest you: Fish rich in omega 3 that you should incorporate into your diet

This aspect is particularly relevant for children in their first years of life, when the brain is still forming and growing. In this sense, a recent study has shown that the disproportion in omega-3 increases in children the risk of suffering from attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

As we get older, omega-3s are still essential for brain function and maintenance. In young adults, it is estimated that the brain does not show deficits of omega-3 until at least several months have elapsed, whereas with aging the deficit can be more quickly registered. The lack of omega-3 increases the risk of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, depression and other disorders (insomnia, attention deficit, mental fatigue).

It is estimated that An average adult person needs 200-300 mg daily of different types of fatty acids. Some foods rich in these molecules are:

  • Cod liver oil (3500 milligrams in 100 grams)
  • Herring and sardines (1500-1800 milligrams in 100 grams)
  • Salmon, tuna, mackerel, trout, sturgeon (500-800 milligrams in 100 grams)
  • Fish roe (red and black caviar) (380-400 milligrams in 100 grams)
  • Hake, bream, sea bass, bream, skate, carp, red mullet, turbot, cod, sole and other white fish (150-200 milligrams in 100 grams)
  • Algae (nori, hiziki, wakame, kombu, dulse, arame) (20-50 milligrams in 100 grams).

What if I do not consume seafood?

Most humans lack the metabolic machinery to make some types of omega-3s from foods of plant origin. Only some populations of vegan tradition for many generations have managed to metabolically adapt to the scarcity of fish oil consumption to compensate their omega-3 needs from vegetables, grains and seeds.

Therefore, consuming only chia or linseed seeds, nuts, olives, cereals or vegetable oils will not be enough to cover the needs of different types of omega-3 for intellectual and emotional activity.